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Camps in Alabama now can re-open after coronavirus closures

The road to the cabins at Maranatha Camp in Scottsboro. Camp staff made the difficult decision back in March that they would not open up their camp for this summer.
The road to the cabins at Maranatha Camp in Scottsboro. Camp staff made the difficult decision back in March that they would not open up their camp for this summer.

Many in north Alabama opted to not open up to campers this summer.

Posted: May 22, 2020 10:54 PM
Updated: May 25, 2020 4:18 PM

It's a tale of two campgrounds in Alabama: ones that will be reopening this summer and those for which that option came too late. 

"This is one of those things where, rather than just be a specific area of the country or even a specific camp itself, it's across the board. It's across the nation and you can even say probably worldwide in camping," said Chase Epps, the executive directof of Maranatha Camp & Conference Center in Scottsboro.

The "thing" that stopped Epps and many other camp directors around north Alabama was "uncertainty." He said the Maranatha Camp staff usually starts planning for their summer camps about nine months out.

But when coronavirus started shifting things back in March, they had a tough decision to make.

"We're mourning the missed opportunity of having life change happen this summer. We believe if kids come out it's an interrupt, a welcome interruption to their regular life and it has an opportunity to shape and change their life in a new and unique way," said Epps.

On the business side, the loss of campers over the summer also means missing out on a lot of revenue. Maranatha makes about 50 percent of its revenue from hosting camp. The other half comes from hosting groups in its conference center and hotel. 

However, that is not fully predictable either. Epps said they've already had some groups pull out. But they have been able to retain some of their staff through assistance funding.

"We were able to bring a few back through the PPP loan that we were granted. And because of that, we've been able to do some improvements on camp and some work around here, but that's all up in June. So we go back to myself and two other full-time staff running the full facility," said Epps. 

Despite that reality for many camps, others like the YMCA's Camp Cha-La-Kee will welcome campers this summer, but only as a day camp, along with a number of other changes.

"Drop off and pick up will be completely different from in the past. No longer walking kids in with their parents and getting a quick tour of the camp. We're going to ask the parents to stay inside their car," said Huy Lu, the camp's executive director.

Kids will also be getting their temperature checked at drop off and after lunch. Additionally, certain activities, like using the swimming pool, won't be options this summer, in an effort to help establish social distancing.

The total number of campers on any given day will also be reduced and parents are asked to send bag lunches with their campers to limit the amount of times and the number of people who touch food at camp.

Lu said while things will be different, he hopes that everyone will still get a good experience while they navigate the new rules.

"We're going to constantly change and adapt to the situation and we're just going to deal with real-time results and make those decisions at the time," said Lu.

Back at Camp Maranatha, Epps said they recorded a series for their YouTube channel that will create the experience of a virtual camp. The first video drops on Tuesday after Memorial Day.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
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